A Provençal Feast
A pivotal meeting of American chefs abroad is full of endearing characters, backstabbing, and many great meals.
M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste
by Luke Barr
$15.00 List Price
Most of the people who saw the 2009 film Julie & Julia agreed: It would have been better if it were simply Julia. (Indeed, one fan, who happened to be a film editor, was heralded as a hero vigilante when he posted a Julie Powell–free version of the movie called & Julia online.) Although the story of twentysomething blogger Powell—breaking down in front of her stove on a nightly basis, writing about her travails with complicated soufflés and slimy innards in her Queens apartment—should have been by far the more relatable of the two, somehow we were still less interested in her than in seeing good old Julia Child, as portrayed in all her tootling jollity by Meryl Streep, set loose in the lush landscape of 1950s France. The all-too-real present was nothing compared to the comfort of hearing the winning, familiar story of Julia’s rise to fame yet again.
Better than even & Julia, though, would be a film version of Luke Barr’s Provence, 1970: M. F. K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard, and the Reinvention of American Taste (Clarkson Potter, $15). The book, which was recently released in paperback, also features Child (when it comes to Julia, we can’t stop, won’t stop) and the forenamed cast of food writers plus a few more to boot, all of whom are guaranteed to please—not a whiny Generation Xer with a bad day job among them. There is gorgeous food, impressive scenery—all those twisty little roads and green vistas!—and lots of backstabbing. Even the driver who ferried this illustrious pack around France is engaging, not least because he also chauffeured Picasso, Elizabeth Taylor,